Welcome to the blog tour for action-packed thriller, The Failsafe Query by Michael Jenkins! Read on for an excerpt and a chance to win a print copy of the book!
The Failsafe Query
Publication Date: July 2018
The Failsafe Query is a gripping thriller set in the contemporary world of modern British espionage.
Sean Richardson, a disgraced former intelligence agent, is tasked to lead a team to search for Alfie Chapman, an Intelligence officer on the cusp of exposing thousands of secrets to the media. This includes a long lost list of Russian moles embedded since the Cold War, one of whom remains a public favourite in the British parliamentary system.
The action moves with absorbing pace and intrigue across Central Asia and Europe as the puzzle begins to unfold through a deep hidden legacy.
Tense, fast paced, and insightful, The Failsafe Query twists and turns to a satisfyingly dramatic finale.
This is a crucial scene that sets the backstory to the novel, and the duplicity that Sean, the main character, unravels later on in the book. Sean had very recently recruited General Yuri, a senior officer in the Uzbekistan Intelligence services. The scene take place on a train set amongst the magnificent vistas of the Uzbekistan deserts as they travel from Tashkent to Samarkand – two mystical cities on the great silk road. Sean is trying to find out who might be smuggling nuclear materials across the region.
Sean and General Yuri boarded the cranky old train bound for Bokhara via the great city of Samarkand – they were destined to spend twenty-four hours together in a small double-bunk compartment situated in the second-class carriages towards the front of the train.
Sean entered the compartment, placed his rucksack on the top bunk and sat at the small table next to the window. The carriage windows had an ancient set of curtains pulled back on an old wire hanging by its threads, and the musty smell of the compartment lingered deep in the nose. The table held two small Uzbek bowls for drinking green chai, and a blue, mosaic-patterned teapot.
It wasn’t long before the train had rolled out of Tashkent on its way to the historic Islamic cities of Samarkand and Bokhara. The wide landscape of the Karakum desert provided the mysterious backdrop for Sean to quiz Yuri on the criminal underworld activity of radiological smuggling that was happening across Central Asia.
Yuri didn’t stop talking.
‘There’s an extensive network of cross-border smuggling going on, Sean, radiological sources moving across the region, and I’ve been monitoring exactly how it works.’
‘Great. You’ve developed this operation well, and we’re pleased with your work Yuri.’
‘I’m glad it’s to your satisfaction,’ Yuri said, in his slightly strained, but very understandable, English.
‘We pay people here, Sean. They are poor and, in this country, we trade in whatever we can. It might be furs, sausages, illegal drugs, vodka or even special nuclear material. It’s our way of life and bargaining markets occur all across the land where buyers and sellers will come. The illicit trade in caesium and even uranium is managed by the Russian Mafia.’
Sean was fascinated at the extent of the knowledge Yuri had – what he had been relaying back to London for the last few months was chilling. He leant back into the sofa opposite the bunk beds, whilst Yuri sat cross-legged on a cushion near the table. Yuri continued.
‘The Mafia use normal traders, low-level workers and simple men to try and sell the stuff. You know, hustlers. Middlemen. If they sell, they give the largest cut back to the Mafia – they are shit-scared of them and know they will be hurt if they try to renege on any deal and run off with the items.’
‘So, who’s buying, Yuri? Where is it moving to? And who are the end buyers and where are they from?’ Sean asked the questions, remembering the classified intelligence he had read of 220 specific cases of smuggling of special nuclear material across Georgia, Turkey, the Caucasus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
‘We only have a handful of deals that we’ve managed to uncover here but it moves across our territory into the Caucasus and Turkey and onwards to wherever the end buyer is. The stuff comes from our old refineries and metallurgy processing plants: some here, some in Kazakhstan. Everyone is corrupt and it’s easy for the Mafia to buy the stuff from security, the workers or even the police. Money speaks here. They then use the hustlers to move it across the deserts into Turkmenistan and then across to Georgia and Ossetia.’
Sean knew the hunting ground for the buyers was in the broken Russian states of Ossetia and Abkhazia and often over into the black-market bazaars of Turkey. It was in these countries that you could buy anything from dried fish to gold, drugs and even weapons-grade uranium.
I started climbing at 13, survived being lost in Snowdonia at 14, nearly drowned at 15, and then joined the Army at 16. Risk and adventure was built into my DNA and I feel very fortunate to have served the majority of my working career as an intelligence officer within Defence Intelligence, and as an explosive ordnance disposal officer and military surveyor within the Corps of Royal Engineers.
I feel privileged to have served for twenty-eight years in the British Army as a soldier and officer, working in Defence Intelligence and Counter-Terrorist Bomb Disposal operations, rising through the ranks to complete my service as a major. I served across the globe on numerous military operations as well as extensive travel and adventure on many major mountaineering and exploration expeditions that I led or was involved in.
I was awarded the Geographic Medal by the Royal Geographical Society for mountain exploration and served on the screening committee of the Mount Everest Foundation charity for many years. It was humbling after so many years of service when I was awarded the MBE for services to counter-terrorism in 2007
The Failsafe Query is my debut novel, and I hope you enjoy the follow up novel, The Kompromat Kill, and my third in an ongoing series, The Moscow Whisper. Each can be read as standalone novels.
Blog Tour Schedule
Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com
Book Dragons Not Worms (Spotlight) https://bookdragonsnotworms.blogspot.com/?m=1
@the.b00keater (Review) https://www.instagram.com/the.b00kreader
B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com
Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com
The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com
I’m All About Books (Spotlight) https://imallaboutbooks.com/
Cocktails and Fairy Tales (Spotlight) https://www.facebook.com/CocktailsFairytales
Books Teacup & Reviews (Spotlight) https://booksteacupnreviews.wordpress.com/
Rambling Mads (Review) http://ramblingmads.com
Tsarina Press (Spotlight) https://www.tsarinapress.com
Jessica Belmont (Spotlight) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/
Banshee Irish Horror Blog (Spotlight) http://www.bansheeirishhorrorblog.com
@bookandwinelovers (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/bookandwinelovers/
The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Spotlight) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com
Stine Writing (Review) https://christinebialczak.com/
Read & Rated (Spotlight) https://readandrated.com/
Sophril Reads (Spotlight) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com
Let me know what you think in the comments. I’d love to interact with you. If this sounds like something you would read, let me know!